Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Circle of Saints for All Souls

~A Circle of Souls for November~
Well, here we go...Another Liturgical Wreath Idea!
Since November is dedicated to All Souls, I hung a cross ornament in the middle of my Autumn wreath to recall all of the souls that we are praying for this month in particular.
Kicking off the month of November with All Saint's Day, I picked out a few of our laminated holy cards, (since the wreath is outdoors) representing these early Christian witnesses who have died in the Lord.  The ones we picked  are special to our family.  We named these saints our "circle of souls" that we call on for intercessory prayer and protection.  How fitting that they guard the entry of our home!

~A few variations of the November wreath~
You could keep it simple with just a cross and no holy cards...
Or you could use a "natural" cross if you don't have a cross ornament on hand.  We made this one and used it for our wreath after Princess carried it with her St. Kateri Tekakwitha Costume!  

As we remember and pray for our faithful departed this month, I am comforted by this quote:
"In heaven, we will know each other by the glance of the soul."
~St. Elizabeth Ann Seton~

O my God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I love Thee
above all things, and repent with my whole heart of my offenses
against Thee. Grant me the grace of holy perseverence.  Have
compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the holy souls
suffering in Purgatory.  And thou, Mary, Mother of God, come
to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.  Amen.

Be sure to visit Catholic Inspired for more great ideas:)

Catholic Inspired

Friday, October 29, 2010

Saints and Such!

"The goal of our spiritual life is to become a new person in Christ.  It is not enough just to be "nice."  We are called to be saints."
~Fr. James Farfaglia~

~Just thought we'd share our blessings as we prepared for All Saint's Day this week...
It came a little early at our house!
Just want to mention these awesome links...
~Catholic Cuisine also has some wonderful traditions and goodies posted in this detailed post.  I would love to make those Soul Cakes this year for All Soul's Day!~
Be sure to see Catholic Icing's link-up for other glorious ideas. Just click on this button:
It's been  a fun week carving pumpkins and looking through old clothes and costumes.  The most amazing part of it all is that we actually made it through the festivities without anyone being SICK this year!  Except me...I've been a little under the weather but I've been marchin on...That's what Moms do, right?  But seriously, it seems we always have someone sick this time of year so it's a miracle to have healthy kids right now!

As far as costumes go, it has been our goal to do All Saint's on a budget.  It's been another blessing to explore what we can "create" with things on-hand...Especially since I don't sew!  Speaking of that, Catholic Icing has a great idea for Mother Teresa if you are looking for a quick and easy no-sew idea!  There are some amazing ideas out there.  This is a link from a St. Joseph's church with some photos and more saints to ponder!

~Princess wanted to dress as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha~
Even though she's not a saint yet...Being a Blessed is pretty close:)
My Mom found this Native American costume in her basement that was an old dress of mine when I was in Campfire Girls!

We scrunched it up with a belt since it was a bit long. The boys had the Indian arrowhead necklace from Cub Scouts and we had plenty of cross-necklaces to go around. We made the headband from a scarf and hot-glued the feathers...Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was re-created!
But my favorite "special touch" came from our very own backyard!

Since Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is known for her love of Jesus, the Holy Eucharist, and the Cross, she is often seen in photos carrying a cross. 
We made this one out of Birch Tree branches found right out our back door!
This would make a great craft for her Feast Day in July!
~We just used leather twine and the lashing technique~
(You could easily just use regular string)
And now for the cross branch...
Pretty easy and authentic!
This was the full costume, complete with spray painted hair!  Princess wore this the first time this week to a Cub Scout Halloween party.
A little "out of order" on the calendar, our annual All Saint's Celebration with our Little Flowers/Blue Knights group was held (a little early) on Friday, the 29th.  I wrote a bit about this celebration last year.  
Having 3 boys, we have several Knight costume parts that we have accumulated over the years since oldest is now 17!  We were able to use knight shirts, pants, and capes for our St. Joan of Arc and St. Florian costumes.  
We purchased the Pope costume several years ago from a party store and it has gotten the most mileage!  We have even used it for St. Patrick in years past.  This year Army Dude (age 11) was St. Pope Damasus.  Kristi's blog, The Bishops of Rome is a great resource for Popes!  We certainly found St. Pope Damasus there.
A few photos of the completed costumes...
Angel Baby (Age 2) as St. Joan of Arc
She played the part a little "too" well for a "two" year old.
Next was our St. Florian, Patron Saint of Firefighters...One of our family favorites for obvious reasons!
~This is our Superboy at Age 6~

Florian is his real middle name!
And finally, we had St. Pope Damasus
Army Dude (Age 11)
Princess dressed as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha for a 2nd time, this time with no black hair spray!

 Funny how the blond hair changes things!
And here we have a whole band of saints!
St. Florian, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Pope Damasus, and St. Joan of Arc!
At the party, big brother helped little brother play the game...

I just have to share this easy and fun game for kids if any of you have All Saint's Parties in your communities....
For the life of me, I can't remember where I got this idea...It seems that I heard about a priest doing it for a homily?
Nevertheless, its a neat thing to do for an All Saint's Party!
All you need is a shoe box and a small mirror...
Tell the kids that you have a surprise for them.
All they need to do is line up if they want to see a "Great Saint!"
One by one they walk through the line and peek into the box...Quietly, so they don't spoil the surprise for the other kids in line.
When they peer into the box they see that "Great Saint" looking right back at them!
What a delight to see those beaming smiles on their faces!
"There is only one tragedy in the end, not to have been a saint."
~Leon Bloy~
All you holy men and women, pray for us!

Halloween came at the end of our week.  I really should do a separate post but I'm too tired for that!  The kids had fun trick-or-treating around our neighborhood Court and visiting the Care Home where the elderly residents enjoy the costume review and a giving out treats. The residents even dress in costumes too!

Angel Baby wasn't a bit bashful!
~Looking forward to a peaceful All Saint's Day Mass to shake out the stress of a busy weekend~
God Bless all of you saints and souls!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Night!

~This Saint-O-Lantern is dedicated to the Mother of God: St. Mary, Most Holy~
*Ave Maria~Hail Mary*

Tonight was Pumpkin Night!

~We carved Pumpkins and ate Pumpkin Cake~
Hubby will be gone to the Firehouse for the next several nights so we had to seize the moment and take advantage of his time home with us...  
(We miss him when he is away!)
It was a fun night with only a couple of small glitches...
Oldest son was very tired from playing Water Polo so he didn't want to be photographed and
I was a little sad that 2 yo missed out on the fun as she was already in bed.  We also didn't have much time to print out some of the saintly pumpkin patterns that I wanted to try so we just did our best with "free hand." It's a little early so the pumpkins might rot before the end of the week but the memories will remain...

I just love this little poem that circulates every year about this time.  You have probably seen it but I think it's perfect for pumpkin night:

Being a Christian...Is like being a pumpkin. God picks you
from the patch, brings you in, washes all the dirt off you. Then He
cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. 

He removes the seeds of doubt, hate and greed. Then He carves you
a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world
to see.

~Here are a few more photos from our evening and the recipe for our Pumpkin Cake below~
Cleaning pumpkins is my favorite part!
Not much of a fancy stencil but I gave it a good, honest, try...
Saint-O-Lantern complete!
 Army Dude (Age 11) did his pumpkin without Dad's help this year.  He's an experienced Boy Scout when it comes to using a knife!
Superboy had some help but he designed the face and gave his pumpkin the "original" name of Jack!
Princess and her handsome and holy pumpkin...
Then we closed out the evening with Pumpkin Cake
This is a Fall favorite at our house!
Pumpkin Cake
6 eggs,  slightly beaten
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1 large can pumpkin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cans condensed milk

1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 Cup melted margarine or butter
Cool whip topping (optional)

Mix all ingredients together, except for cake mix and butter.  Pour into greased 9X13 pan.
Place yellow cake mix into a separate bowl and melt the butter.  Pour melted butter over the cake mix and use fork or fingers to moisten the cake.  Cake should be moist but lumpy.  Slowly drop cake mixture on top of the pumpkin mixture until the pumpkin surface is covered.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

I was so mad at myself that we forgot to pray the Pumpkin Carving Prayer!
I printed it out from DLTK and everything.
But hero hubby saved the day, even though it was the "next" day.
He helped 2yo Angel Baby carve her pumpkin before heading off to work.  We had a second chance to do the prayer and carve a pumpkin accordingly! 
(Hint: The Christian face matches the prayer)
We named him "Bible Pumpkin"~
Dear God,
As I carve my pumpkin help me say this prayer:
Open my mind so I can learn about You;
(Cut the top of the pumpkin)
Take away all my sin and forgive me for the wrong things I do.
(Clean out the inside)
Open my eyes so Your love I will see;
(Cut the eyes out in heart shapes)
I'm so sorry for turning up my nose to all you've given me.
(Cut a nose in the shape of a cross)
Open my ears so your word I will hear.
(Cut the ears shaped like the Bible)
Open my mouth so I can tell others You're near
(Cut the mouth in the shape of a fish)
Let your light shine in all I say and do!  Amen.
(Place a candle inside and light it)
Check out the Saint-O-Lantern Links over at Catholic Cuisine too...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seasons of the Soul

Autumn Fingerprint Tree Craft
Made by 8yo Princess
Seasons of the Soul
The changing of the seasons remind me of the seasons of the soul and our Christian journey. 
I'm sure there are some really great writings about this somewhere!  
I was inspired by these vivid paintings that two of my children made so I wrote this little poem...

Brilliantly, leaves change color right before they fall, signaling Christ's blazing love, one last time.
Then they are finished and go back into the dust.
But they will come again...
Until then we are left with bare trees, colder temperatures, and darker days.
It is time to hunker down and examen our own nakedness and sin.
A time to root out all that does not lead us to God. 
We may suffer through the dimness but we have hope in the light.
Springtime is ahead, like the hope of heaven.
We need only to wait patiently and keep the faith,
For the promise of new life.
The resurrection illuminates the seasons of our soul.

If you haven't seen this CUTE Autumn craft floating around the internet, you can find it at Kaboose. We used it as a nature unit but also thought it would make a great craft for studying Creation and the Garden of Eden (Tree of Life).
Princess and her handprint/fingerprint tree, followed by 6yo Superboy and his tree...
Another close-up photo of Superboy's prints
1st Grade
And here they are together...
These books were good supplements to our study:

Even though this is an Easter Story, you can't help but love it year-round. I just love that line about how the third tree "knew that God's love had changed everything!"
I just love this author for detailed learning about lots of subjects. We check out her stuff from our local library.
I am always looking for the sacred significance all around us so this Catholic Symbols site has a very interesting list of plants and trees with their Christian symbolism!
St. Joemaria Escriva also inspired my writing today...
"Anything that does not lead you to God is a hindrance.  Root it out and throw it far from you."
"You, if you are an apostle, will not have to die.  You will move to a new house: that is all."
"So you have failed?  You cannot fail.  You have not failed: you have gained experience.  Forward!"
"Love Our Lady. And she will obtain abundant grace for you to help you conquer in your daily struggle.  And the enemy will gain nothing by those foul things that continually seem to boil and rise within you, seeking to swallow up in their perfumed corruption the high ideals, the sublime determination that Christ Himself has set in your heart."
God Bless your souls during this change of seasons...
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